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Google owes Seattle-area minority workers back pay in $3.8M discrimination settlement

Photo credit: iStockphoto.com/jacoblund

Minority tech workers in Washington and California have scored a significant win in the ongoing battle against systemic pay and hiring discrimination in the United States. 

More than 5,500 female and Asian software engineers at Google’s offices in Silicon Valley, Seattle and Kirkland will receive $3.8 million, as part of a settlement reached between the US Department of Labor (DOL) and the Mountain View-based tech company. 

The DOL’s Office of Federal Contract Compliance Programs (OFCCP) discovered the discrimination – pay gaps affecting female workers and hiring rate differences that put female and Asian workers at a disadvantage – during a routine compliance evaluation.

In addition to compensating these groups with back pay plus interest, Google has agreed to make $1.25 million in pay-equity adjustments to level the playing field over the next five years for it engineers in the US. The tech company has pledged to take a number of actions to prevent pay and hiring discrimination going forward.  

“Pay discrimination remains a systemic problem. Employers must conduct regular pay equity audits to ensure that their compensation systems promote equal opportunity,” said OFCCP Director Jenny R. Yang in a statement announcing the settlement.

If pay or hiring disparities are discovered, and no meaningful differences in education, experience, training or performance exist, then the workers receiving less pay could be entitled to compensation, Liz Washko, a shareholder at Ogletree, Deakins, Nash, Smoak & Stewart, told business news outlet HR Dive.

Washington is one of many states and localities that prohibit employers from asking applicants about pay history doing so is considered a driver of wage disparities for women and minorities, according to HR Dive.

The spotlight on unequal pay and hiring practices at Google follows the formation of the first-ever labor union by hundreds of full-time employees and contractors at its parent company Alphabet. However, because the Alphabet Workers Union is not seeking federal recognition, its members will not have collective bargaining rights in negotiations with the Silicon Valley-based employer.

 


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